Judge sets Nov. 15 deadline to indict Harris-Moore

SEATTLE — Federal prosecutors now have until November to figure out what to do with Colton Harris-Moore, the Barefoot Bandit from Camano Island.

A judge last week set a deadline of Nov. 15 for prosecutors to formally indict the 19-year-old serial burglary suspect, according to documents filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Seattle.

It’s the first time a judge has set a deadline for prosecutors in the case. The paperwork filed last week makes clear that the next few months may provide prosecutors and defense attorneys sufficient time to figure out how best to resolve the case.

“It’s not necessarily an unusual occurrence,” said Emily Langlie, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Harris-Moore was arrested July 11 in the Bahamas, ending an alleged two-year crime spree. The notorious fugitive is suspected in more than 80 crimes including stolen planes, boats, luxury cars and dozens of residential and commercial burglaries.

Harris-Moore was charged by complaint in federal court in connection with a stolen plane that crashed near Granite Falls last fall. He has not been indicted by a grand jury — the next step in a federal criminal case.

He’s also been charged in Island and San Juan counties and in Nebraska, and could face charges elsewhere, including Snohomish County.

Police say they found evidence at some crime scenes that Harris-Moore sometimes ran off barefoot. The behavior earned him the nickname Barefoot Bandit, and the moniker stuck.

His ability to evade police brought him notoriety that spread across the Internet on Facebook fan pages and was fanned by stories in glossy magazines and on national TV news shows.

Most of the alleged crimes occurred near his childhood home on Camano Island. He also prowled the San Juan Islands and other communities in the Pacific Northwest, police allege. In June they say, Harris-Moore fled east leaving behind victims in at least nine states before he flew more than 1,000 miles from Indiana to the Bahamas.

John Henry Browne, Harris-Moore’s defense attorney, may be working to strike a plea arrangement with federal and state prosecutors. Browne did not return calls Monday seeking comment.

Meanwhile, federal prosecutors are working with county prosecutors to determine the best way to hold Harris-Moore accountable for all the crimes for which he’s been accused.

Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks has said he’d like Harris-Moore to stand trial in Coupeville once his federal case has been decided. Still, if Harris-Moore were to face juries in all the counties where police have evidence against him, the process could be extremely costly and lengthy. The extra time granted in the most recent motion in federal court allows for “that to be sorted out,” Langlie said.

“We are still working with all the locals to see how they want to proceed,” she said.

Jackson Holtz: 425-339-3437; jholtz@heraldnet.com.

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